If you have ever written for a large audience, you know the struggle of getting them to connect to your writing. And with the sheer amount of content out there today it can seem impossible to create that perfect viral piece that will resonate with your readers. However there is a simple way to create content that will be both engaging and shareable: utilizing the emotional argument in your writing.
Emotions vs. Logic
As a content creator, whether it is for your own personal blog or for a company, integrating emotionally compelling writing into your work is necessary in order to create great content. Too often writers attempt to influence their audience using logic alone while disregarding the emotional argument. However according to science, the most convincing content is often emotional.
One neurologist, Antonio Damasio, proposed the idea of somatic hypothesis markers, which boiled down to this: emotions are a critical component to decision making.
Damasio studied patients who'd damaged or destroyed the emotional cortex of their brains. He found that across the board these patients had trouble making any kind of decision, large or small. While the “rational” parts of their brain were perfectly in tack the patients weren’t able to decide what to wear, what to do, or who they're friends with. Damasio’s study demonstrated the vital role that emotions play in our ability to make decisions and how they function as the “trigger” to our decision making process.
Content creators can learn from Damasio’s study by injecting their writing with language that stirs the reader’s emotions. This will make your writing more influential and create an audience primed to engage.
What Emotions Are Most Engaging?
Studies have shown that there are four basic human emotions: happy, sad, afraid/surprised, and angry. Each of these four emotions affect audiences in uniquely different ways. A savvy content creator can utilize these four emotions to influence their readers to achieve their content goals.
Happiness is at emotional core of why we share much of our media, at least in the content marketing world. According to several studies, happiness is the emotional trigger for social media sharing. When readers see content that makes them feel happy their instincts tell them to share that happiness. So if you are looking to create viral, shareable content then be sure to infuse some happiness into your writing!
Sadness on the other had is the emotion that creates empathy. When exposed to content that is sad, people produce a hormone called oxytocin that stimulates feelings of compassion. In turn, people who produce large amounts of oxytocin are more likely to give money to charities or develop trust in a brand.
Like sadness, fear and surprise can also create brand loyalty or trust in an audience. Consumers who experience fear felt a stronger connection with the brand presented to them than others who experienced different emotions. So add the element of surprise in your next piece of content and you might be surprised yourself to see your audience’s loyalty skyrocket.
Finally, anger is the emotion that catalyzes the reader’s opinion and strengthens those opinions. Studies show that readers exposed to content that had offensive comments rather than civil ones were more likely to form an opinion about the same article. Furthermore they were more adamant about their views. So next time you want to generate content that evokes passion in your audience, try to get under their skin and ruffle some of their feathers.
Emotions and the Virality of Content
The greatest challenge of content marketing is producing content that is meaningful to your audience and something that your readers want to share. Adding emotion to your marketing strategy is a guaranteed way to elevate your content from “meh” to “can’t miss” and can visibly grow your audience.
Studies have shown that the content that is most viral strikes at one of the four main emotions. People naturally want to share their emotions with people and viral content taps directly into that human desire. When an article makes a reader smile, they want to share that smile with friends. When a story ignites a reader’s anger, they want to gain more supporters for their beliefs. If, as a writer, you can figure out how to make an emotionally resonant work then you will be able to create potentially viral content. Tap into the emotional spine of your audience and watch it grow.